Source Line Comparison for Celebrity and Character Sims

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Creating unique Sims is a challenge, and creating a Sim from a source picture, such as a celebrity, is very, very challenging. It is usually a time consuming process that can end in great satisfaction when your Sim is finally done.

This tutorial will describe a way to line up your Sims's facial features to that of the source picture, so you can start working on the details that make your Sim resemble your source with greater accuracy. The creator feedback forum on MTS will be your most invaluable tool.

Remember, I'm not teaching you how to create a Sim, just how to do a facial line comparison between your source pic and your Sim already in progress. I use GIMP, so this tutorial will guide you using GIMP 'language.' If someone wants to translate this to Photoshop, please feel free to do so. This process was not created by me, so I don't hold any claim of ownership. To be truthful, I remember seeing it done from my early days here on MTS, but since I have no way of finding that person now, please accept my apologies for not giving whoever you are credit. Wait, I just did, didn't I? Please PM me if you wish more personilized credit.

Let's begin.

1. First, make sure your source picture is a square on face shot with no facial expression. If you don't, you might end up making a Sim with a smile already in place, for example, that in-game turns out the look like the Joker from Batman when he/she smiles. Seriously, not pretty, unless you like that sort of thing. If you are planning to submit your Sim on MTS to be shared with the Sim community, make doubly sure your source pic is clear, square on, with no facial emotion or expression, and, preferably, with the hair away fom his/her face. It can be very difficult to find this sort of picture, but don't give up. There has to be a picture out there to suit your needs, right? Sometimes, however, you have to work with the best you can find that doesn't meet these criteria. MTS doesn't like to accept these source pictures unless absolutely necessary, though.

2. Using GIMP, open your source picture and your Sim's comparison picture that you saved from an in-game head shot. I can't stress enough the importance of using an in-game picture, because CAS and in-game pictures can vary a great deal.

Looking at your source picture, crop it so only the head is available. Make sure the size is suitable to this process. It's not necessary to work with something bigger than 500 pixels wide. We'll go with 300x300 for this tutorial. Click on File, New, and a window pops up with the same size pixel definition as your source pic. Double the width to 600 and click OK. Copy and paste your source pic into the new blank file, and move it until the left edges line up. Click Layer, then Anchor layer, so you don't inadvertently move it out of position.

3. Now, get your Sim's comparison picture, crop it so only the head is available, and reduce the size to slightly larger than the cropped source picture, so about 350x350 for the purpose of this tutorial. This way, you can make size adjustments before anchoring it to your new file, the one to which you already anchored your cropped source pic. Copy and paste the cropped Sim picture into the new file. Do not anchor it yet. In the Toolbox, click on the Scale Tool (there's a small square and a big square as the icon), then click on the pasted Sim pic. Now you can manually adjust the head size of the Sim to match the head size of the source. Don't worry if you end up with wasted space around either picture. It doesn't matter in the slightest.

At this point, you will want to make sure that your Sim pic is not rotated left or right, but rather square on like your source pic. Lines won't do you much good if the pictures don't line up. So, you may have to rotate the picture until the Sim's eyes are level. This does not mean for you line up the eyes of your Sim with the eyes of the source. It is crucial to make sure the head sizes line up instead. Once you've got your Sim pic in place, Click Layer, Anchor layer. Keeping this new file open, you can now close the other files. Now we come to the nitty gritty of this process: the lines!

4. Once again go to your Toolbox and this time click on the foreground colour. Make it something that will stand out, and that matches no other colour on your comparison file. I really like bright red or neon lime green. Both are highly visible and easy to distinguish from the actual file. Pick any such colour that strikes your fancy and choose OK.

In the middle of the Toolbox, click on the icon to open your brushes dialogue. Choose a small circle, and click on the Pencil tool. This will keep your lines' edges sharp and your colour will flood the lines.

Also in the middle of the Toolbox, click on the 'Open the tool options' icon. Make sure the size of the circle is big enough to be able to see the lines you will draw, but small enough not to cover too much of the facial features by using the Scale slider. Don't alter the opacity. The easiest way to make sure your lines are visible and yet don't over-cover the features of your pics, is through trial and error. There's no formula, unless you want to make one.

5. Go back to your file and head to a major feature on the source pic. That is the face you want to copy, after all. I'll start with the eyes (I always do and don't know why) for the purposes of this tutorial. Using your Pencil tool, click on the inner part of the left corner of the left eye. Click and hold Shift, and click on the inner part of the right corner of the left eye. You now have a line going from corner to corner of the left eye. If you don't, Click Edit, Undo, and do it again.

6. Keep holding Shift and click somewhere on the nose, preferably the tip, or the inside edge of a nostril. Don't go from eye to eye with a continuous line or you will not be able to match up the eye corners correctly. Now you have a line from the eye to the nose. Go back to either corner of the eye, click, hold Shift and click on the top of the arch of the eyebrow. You may want to draw the eyebrow completely if it's giving you trouble during the creation of the Sim.

7. The same way you drew a line from corner to corner on the eye, make a line from nostril to nostril. The nose can be the most difficult thing to get right on a face, so this step is very important.

From the right nostril, you can Shift and click to create a line to a major feature of the other eye. This just gives you another reference to check out the position of the eyes and nose, but is not absolutely necessary.

8. Go down to the nosetip, Click, then Shift and click to a major feature of the mouth. I prefer the left corner because I need to make a line distinguishing the width of the mouth anyway. So, once that is done, Shift and click on the right corner of the mouth. Click on the centre of the bottom of the bottom lip (yes, I meant to say bottom twice LOL!). Shift and click on the top of the top lip (yes, I meant to say top twice ROFL!) either directly in the centre, or to the top edge of the curve just next to the centre of the top lip. Where you click will depend on the shape of the lips, and you will be able to figure that out the more you do this process.

If you're having a hard time with either or both of the lips while creating your Sim, simply Shift and click to draw the entire shape of the lip(s).

9. Next comes the general structure of the head and face, such as how far down the chin goes. I like to take a line from either corner of the mouth to the bottom middle of the chin for this. Then, you can create a line across the widest part of the face.

From here you can basically make up where you want your comparison lines on the source pic. Heck, you can make up your own style for the whole process if you want to. It's important, however, to make sure everything lines up, and that you have the location of the facial features in relation to the chin.

10. Once you're done drawing your lines, go the Toolbox click on the Select by Colour tool. On GIMP, it's a hand pointing to three coloured boxes joined in a line. Go back to your file and click anywhere on the lines you've just drawn. That is the fastest and easiest way I know of to copy the lines. Once the colour is selected, copy and past your lines on the right side of this file where your Sim comparison pic is. Line up the chin lines. You will see just how perfect, or imperfect, your Sim is.

11. Save this file as a reference. When and if you come back to compare your Sim to the source pic, you simply have to open the saved comparison file, then repeat steps 3 and 10, and you will be able to skip steps 4 through 9! Too easy.

Repeat this process as many time as you want. It's a great comparison tool, and I hope it helps you create your Sims faces faster and easier.

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